Home > Conservation, Economic growth > We just don’t want to believe it

We just don’t want to believe it

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

 The Growth Delusion

Click the audio player to hear an interview with Bob Lloyd of Otago University in New Zealand, who discusses his recent article ‘The Growth Delusion’.

Forgotten in the cacophony of all the talk and vitriol being hurled about on both sides of the climate change “debate”, humanity’s assault on the natural world quietly continues unabated. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. One of the United Nation’s now forgotten millenium development goals (MDGs) from 2000 was to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss.

By all accounts, we have fallen far short of this goal. “We failed miserably,” Jean-Christophe Vie of the International Union for Conservation of Nature told Reuters. If anything, the extinction crisis is worse today than it was 10 years ago. The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment reported that 60% of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth, such as fresh water, pollination, and the regulation of regional climate and pests, are being undermined as a result of human activity.

The evidence is unavoidable and it mounts on an almost daily basis: melting Arctic sea ice, collapsing or threatened fisheries, continuing deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, desertification – the list goes on. Meanwhile, a recent UN report estimated that the world’s biggest companies caused US$2.2 trillion in environmental damage in 2008.

Yet it all seems to make little difference. We just don’t want to believe that we may have to change our ways; that our limitless, growth-based economic system is running headlong into the ecological limits of a finite planet. There can be no doubt that most of us care deeply about the plight of our world but, as George Monbiot said recently, “as soon as we perceive that our economic interests are threatened, our war against nature resumes.”

Bob Lloyd has another possible explanation. He is a professor at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand and he recently wrote a paper called ‘The Growth Delusion’, a title intentionally reminiscent of Richard Dawkins book, The God Delusion. In fact, Lloyd draws on some of the same theories put forth by Dawkins to try to explain why, despite the mounting evidence, the world seems unable or unwilling to even question the notion that maximizing growth should continue to be the primary objective of developed economies.

Lloyd calls our continuing insistence upon growth irrational and he explains why in our interview. Click the audio player above to hear more.

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